Brooks County announced it’s taking legal action for people who have active COVID-19 cases, and still go out in public.
If you test positive for the virus, you’re told to stay home and self-isolate for 14 days. However, according to Brooks County Judge Eric Ramos, two county residents didn’t take that seriously.
“They outed themselves with regards to being positive, and then we started getting calls about these two individuals who were riding around town and going shopping,” Ramos said.
Ramos said going out in public when you knowingly have the virus violates Texas Penal Code 22.05 (a), which states that a person commits an offense if they recklessly engage in conduct that puts another person in danger.
Because of the severity of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Brooks County is reminding residents about the penal code’s importance.
“It’s all preventative, to protect the community and to stop the spread,” said Ramos who also said nearly 40 percent of the county’s population has underlying illnesses or is elderly. “What we do, we do for the safety and security of our community.”
KRIS 6 News spoke to several Falfurrias residents who are understanding of this interpretation of the penal code. They said not only is it irresponsible to be out and about when you’re sick, but it also puts other people's lives at risk
“If you’re sick, why do you have to be out?” said Matthew Perez. “What are you going out to do? What is there left to do with everything being closed?”
“Because (when you’re sick) you’re endangering everybody else, and I don’t think that’s fair,” said Carmen Pena, a Falfurrias resident. “We follow the rules. If we’re sick, we stay home. If you feel sick, you should stay home, too.”
If you’re caught violating the code in Brooks County, it could lead to an arrest and Class B misdemeanor.
Ramos said the county will be issuing a travel advisory soon that recommends people to quarantine if they travel to Nueces County or the Rio Grande Valley.